Strategic Collaboration to Enhance Online Learning at UCC

Tim O'Donovan 
Systems Administrator

In 2012 UCC produced a comprehensive Online Learning Strategy, which was designed to enhance both the quality and portfolio of our online and blended offerings. The University has now 20 programmes already running or in development as part of this initiative.

Despite the significant resources that have been assigned to the project, student numbers are small, with less than 20 students on most of these programmes. While the project is covering its costs, and having a very positive spin off-effect across all our teaching and learning, the University has real ambitions to expand our reach to a global audience and to raise additional revenue.

A number of HEIs (particularly in the USA) have entered into partnerships with commercial organisations in order to leverage their expertise and knowledge of the online and distance education marketplaces.

Typically, the commercial partner invests significant revenues towards service provision, instructional design, marketing, recruitment and support, whilst the University is responsible for all academic matters including content, delivery & assessment. Tuition revenue is then shared between the partners.

In July 2013, UCC began to explore this business model, and reached out to a number of different organisations and peer universities.

Following an intensive tendering process and subsequent contractual negotiations, in April 2015 UCC entered into a commercial collaboration with Wiley Global Education for the delivery of online learning support services to University College Cork.

Throughout 2016, we will launching five fully online programmes that will be developed in collaboration with Wiley, and we have a target of 900 new wholly online students within five years.

This presentation will discuss UCC’s journey of discovery, the process choosing a partner, and the significant change project that is now under way in the University as we embark on this new mode of educational service delivery.


Katz, Richard N. (2003), Selecting Models and External Partners for E-Learning Initiatives, Educase Centre for Applied Research. Retrieved from

Hoffman, Michael S. (2012),Online Education Vendor Partners: When and how to Select One, Journal of Distance Learning Administration 15 (3) Retrieved from

Metros, Susan E. & Falkenberg Getman, Joan (2012), Going the Distance: Outsourcing Online Learning, Game Changers: Education and Information Technologies. Retrieved from

Hillman, Susan J. & Corkery, Martha G (2010), University infrastructural needs and decisions in moving towards online delivery programmes, Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 32 (5) Pg 467-474

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